Stephen Hawking, Robotics and Our "Dangerous Point in Human History"
【Summary】Stephen Hawking, Robotics and Our “Dangerous Point in Human History”
SILICON VALLEY, CA. – Automation is all around us. Robotics, we are told, will free humans to pursue leisure and/or education as our mundane tasks are taken over by subservient cyborgs. We're at the dawn of a new age of enlightenment and human evolution – or at least that's what our intelligentsia is claiming.
Enter Stephen Hawking, one of the most brilliant men on planet Earth. According to Hawking, things may not be as rosy as they seem.
In a candid essay published by the UK Guardian, Hawking offered a salient, erudite look at the state of humanity. The article in question is entitled, "This is the most dangerous time for our planet."
"The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining. This in turn will accelerate the already widening economic inequality around the world. The internet and the platforms that it makes possible allow very small groups of individuals to make enormous profits while employing very few people. This is inevitable, it is progress, but it is also socially destructive.
"We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it. With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so."
Others disagree. For example, the World Economic Forum recently published this article, "Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better." The article points to a utopian future where everything from possessions to pollution are a thing of the past. This is only supposed to take place thirteen years from now. Is such a dream possible? So much would have to change.
Some believe (in addition to Hawking) that robotics and other advances in manufacturing will put so many humans out of work that it will lead to social unrest and a lack of meaning in our daily lives. After all, many humans derive their worth from their work. Throughout the era of Medieval Europe, a "Smith" (a man's last name) was often the same as his occupation. A blacksmith, for example, comes to mind. If your father was a blacksmith, you'd learn that trade from him, and you would then in turn teach it to your son. Such was the cycle of life.
In the near future, will robots be teaching other robots what to say or do or think? Are we at the dawn of a wonderful new age, or is Stephen Hawking correct in saying we have arrived at the most dangerous moment in human history?
Anthony C. LoBaido is a journalist, ghostwriter and photographer. He has worked in 53 nations around the world – from Laos to Lebanon, from Belize to Botswana and from Nepal to Namibia. He also published a book on the Kurds. Some of LoBaido’s favorite stories include attending the British Army’s jungle warfare training in Central America, retracing Lawrence of Arabia’s World War I trek through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, investigating the blood diamonds of Sierra Leone as popularized in the Leonardo DiCaprio film by the same name, meeting “CNN hero” Aki Ra at one of his landmine digs in northern Cambodia, working with Time Magazine’s “Hero of Asia” Lek Chailert on her crusade to assist injured and abused elephants in Southeast Asia, rescuing HIV/Aids throw-away babies in the garbage dumps of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as visiting a leper colony in Myanmar. LoBaido’s articles have been cited by Ivy League universities such as Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. As a photographer, LoBaido made National Geographic in 2014.
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